I got into a mini-argument with someone awhile back about movie lists. I had been reading through some movie site’s Top Whatever movies of the year and the subject came up that while the movies in question were indeed the writer’s favorite, the same couldn’t be said that they were the year’s best. I pointed this out and suggested the writer call it a list of their favorites, since that is what it was.
Someone else commented back saying, essentially: “Why can’t they just be the same thing?” My response was, essentially: “Because you liking a movie does not automatically make it a great film.” I really love the movie Thor. But I would never have argued that it should be included in the Best Picture Nominees at the Oscars.
This is really getting to be an issue these days. People are so immersed in themselves that they can’t even see entertainment properly. A great movie is simply a movie that you like. There’s no need for it to have substance. And on one level, that’s ok, because movies are for entertainment. But they are also meant to open up new horizons.
Some friends and I get together weekly and watch a movie together. We try to pick the award-winners, and generally solid films. We’ve never put on a Transformers, Harry Potter, or Twilight film. One of my friends commented to me, “you guys never watch anything I’ve ever heard of.” Another time, someone was complaining because “the Academy Awards always go to movies nobody’s ever seen.”
All this should befuddle our common sense. A movie is good, or not good, based on its own qualities, not ours. It doesn’t matter how many people have seen a film, what matters is the actual film. It’s not the Academy’s problem you haven’t seen The Artist, The King’s Speech, Midnight in Paris, or Hugo. It’s not (always) the film’s fault that you’re bored by it. Our artistic vision has become so minute that we allow explosions, mushy love stories, and yes, even poorly acted and/or poorly written religious dramas, to become the highlights of our experience.
The complaint is so often heard that Hollywood never makes anything good anymore. It is all remakes and sequels and so on. I dare you to go see the films listed above, or other movies like them (Moneyball, Warrior, The Help) and break your bubble and look around at the films that don’t make a lot of noise, but stir our souls.